I know that it is really challenging right now not to be discouraged about some of the terrible things that are happening to animals. It’s one thing after another – Harambe the gorilla, Juma the Jaguar, the breed specific legislation nonsense in Quebec that could see thousands of dogs sentenced to death because of their appearance. This is layered on top of the day to day devastation that we are keenly aware is happening in the background. It can be really hard to not feel despair, and hopelessness.
Summer also represents the time for Rib Fests far and near, with several new ones popping up in Ottawa alone this year. Rib Fest is the ultimate assertion of carnivorousness, and raises the ire of vegans and vegetarians in a way few other things do. It’s hard not to feel like we’re losing the battle when it’s seen as seen as socially acceptable, and even cool, to eat the flesh off of the rib cage of a formerly living being.
We may not be winning the Rib Fest battle, but the good news is that all indicators show that we are making serious traction with winning the war. Never have we ever been more socially accepted, and never before has vegan food and lifestyle appealed to so many people. Vegans and allies, we are so on point right now that it’s ridiculous.
Here are five things that show how very on point we are.
1. According to Google Trends, people are looking for information about the vegan lifestyle in record numbers. Look at how vegan compares to vegetarian, paleo and gluten-free. For all the noise you hear about the latter two from nutritionists and “natural health” proponents, it’s VEGAN that people are searching for. Even just between 2014 and 2015, google searches for “vegan” increased by 32%!
2. Places can’t keep up with the demand for vegan options. A few examples: One Ottawa gelato shop has said that demand for their vegan gelato options is so strong that they got cleaned out as soon as their vegan flavours arrived. Vegan bakery Strawberry Blonde brought in soft serve ice cream this past week, but haven’t been able to keep it in stock. And a non-vegan restaurant made special vegan sausages from scratch to serve on Canada Day.
3. Top people in every field are speaking out in favour of veganism. Arnold Schwartzenegger, California governor and the most famous body builder of all time, is advocating for eliminating meat from ones diet, and has spoken of its immense environmental impact. Incidentally, the world’s strongest man and top ultra marathoner are also vegan… along with some of the world’s most well known business people, politicians, and entertainers. Bill Gates is backing Beyond Meat, which as the mission of creatingmass-market solutions that perfectly replace animal protein with plant protein.
The Washington Post published an article recently called Meat is Horrible, and increasingly online dialogues on the topic show a level of thoughtfulness previously unheard of; even those who are not vegan are increasingly acknowledging that perhaps they ideally should be. (There are also still plenty of people whose contributions are limited to “I love meat!” and “But bacon, tho.”)
4. Mainstream brands are introducing vegan versions of their products; and they aren’t accidentally vegan. Gay Lea has a vegan coconut whipped cream. Becel has vegan margarine. Hellman’s has introduced vegan mayo. Ben & Jerry’s has jumped on board with vegan ice cream. These introductions have helped to put vegan products on the same shelves with their non-vegan counterparts, introducing them to a whole new audience. In the United States, you can buy vegan Just Mayo at the dollar store. The dollar store!
5. The most influential health organizations in the world are using the V word. The World Health Organization and The United Nations have both recently called for people to adopt plant-based diets in their reports. Okay so maybe the UN and WHO aren’t trendy, but it’s definitely indicative that the science supporting vegan and plant-based diets has attained mainstream acceptance and support. Plus, the President of the American College of Cardiology and Chief of Cardiology at Rush University, Dr. Kim Williams, is a vegan and advocates a plant-based diet for heart disease prevention.
We are making headway. I get it – we are all impatient and want to see faster progress, as lives depend on it – I’ve been vegan for 12 years and have been waiting longer than many. We are reaching the critical mass. Hang tight, and keep being vegan loud and proud. Keep it positive, and show people how it’s done. A better, kinder world is just around the corner.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. ~ Ghandi
Get Pamela Tourigny’s no-fuss recipes when you sign up for the Vegan Eats Ottawa newsletter here. Pamela is an Ottawa-based expert on the topics of veganism and vegan advocacy, sustainability, and ethical consumerism. She also consults with business clients with their marketing, communications and public relations needs, and with restaurants on adapting their menus to introduce plant-based options.